Saturday 30 July 2022

Garden Diary July


I wrote last month about a deer visiting my vegetable garden and raiding a lot of my plants and produce. The hanging CDs did not put the deer off, but we decided to go for all the senses. So as well as the sparkles, we have hung rags socked in diesel for an unpleasant smell, and also have a radio playing in the polytunnel. That combined with a spooky scarecrow, and we haven't seen the deer since.

Some of the things that I thought were gone have recovered. Although the beetroot tops were chewed, the beetroot themselves are fine. Roasted with thyme and olive oil, they are very tasty. (No horrible beetroot in vinegar for us!)

And although most of the strawberries were eaten, I had thought that the plants were ruined because so many leaves were chewed off, but they too have recovered, and tonight I found a single new berry.

We aren't going to have as many runnerbeans, but since we are still eating last year's bumper crop from the freezer, this is not so bad.

We have been struggling with space in our small freezer, so have decided to get a chest freezer, which is already filling up.

One new thing we have been growing is these patty pan squash. I love how they look like little space ships.


A few other things are still coming along - tomatoes, peas, celeriac, butternut squash, pumpkins and sprouts. We have eaten a few broadbeans, which although the plants are not as big as other years, they haven't suffered from blackfly. I am trying to pick the courgettes before they grow too big, and have made soup and last night courgette fritters. I keep feeling that we should dig the potatoes, as Monty was digging some of his, but we haven't yet.

One thing I feel this year is that we have had less weeds. Perhaps it is the hot weather, or maybe I have kept on top of them a bit better than other years. Hard to tell.

Finally two photos of the ruby passion sunflowers. They are not as tall, or as large flowers, as the sunflowers we grew other years, but they are really beautiful

Saturday 23 July 2022

Drypoint and Collagraph Printmaking

I have just finished an afternoon course over several weeks in drypoint and collagraph printing. It was really enjoyable to learn something completely new. My main reason was to meet some new people, and I was slightly in awe of some of the talented printers in the group. 

I did not really get to grips with the collagraph. It involves cutting surfaces, and building up textured material, and I think I just wasn't careful enough. I prefered the drypoint, where you are scratching lines onto a surface. 

But in both techniques the skill really seems to be in applying the inks. Below shows how different the results can be from the same plate. This is a manga version of my son for his birthday card. In the end I gave him the top one, where I applied the hair colour with ink. The bottom one was a black and white print, with the colour watercoloured on afterwards.

It was fun to try something new, and I have signed up for linoprinting in the autumn with the same teacher.

Monday 11 July 2022

Morris Traveller Pattern

Sometimes a pattern will just fly off the needles, and other times it is more difficult. But this one has gone beyond difficult into another zone. It has taken me over six months to get the final version, and I am sort of done with it now.
I knitted the first version, the black morris traveller, for my mother-in-law for Christmas. Actually that is my favourite one, and my daughter tells me it went well because it was made with love. But when I decided to do another test knit, the pattern I thought I had written up had gaps. The second version, the light green, is fine from the sides but just didn't look in proportion widthwise. So finally I have knitted the last morris traveller in burgundy, and I think at last we are there.

There are slight variations in the different models of morris traveller. Some have the front windscreen divided in two. But I hope I have caught the main features - the curvy bonnet, and the wooden frame at the back.

You hardly ever see a morris traveller these days. More often a morris minor might be about. So I am not really expecting this pattern to be a big seller, but sometimes you just have to make something for the love of it.

The pattern is available on ravelry and will be on Etsy later in the day.


Saturday 2 July 2022

Garden Diary June

A little bit late with my garden diary for June, and as you will see the look of the vegetable plot has changed in the last day. I have realised from gardening the last few years that not everything is going to work out, and you have to not worry too much about the failures, but celebrate the successes.

So far this year that was going much as usual, something ate all the carrot seedlings. But some of the new things we are trying are doing well: brussel sprouts, beetroot and celeriac. But then a few days ago when I went to water, all the strawberries I had been so looking forward to were gone, the tops of a fair number of my sunflowers were bitten off. Then yesterday I noticed that quite a few runner beans were bitten off at the base, and the tops of the beetroots were really eaten. But not I thought the usual unseen minibeasts, as there were also some fairly large hoof prints in the soil. 

Yesterday I was in the house but looked out to see the culprit strolling down the hill for some afternoon snacks. A very confident deer, who was not put off by my son picking cherries nearby. I shouted out the house, and he ran off, and then my husband spent the evening setting up a border of CDs, which we are hoping might stop the deer jumping in. They are quite shiny, and if they don't do the trick perhaps some hanging tin cans or windchimes might have to be added. I have also arranged as many covers as I can. Below is the celariac and beetroot under a wire cover.

In the polytunnel the lettuce are doing well, and the mini cucumbers which I am trying this year. Very pleased with the lettuce, which self-seeded from last years. We had put last years compost outside on the soil, and I noticed that little lettuce seedlings were coming up. I transferred them inside, and they are doing better that last year.

The courgettes are almost ready to eat, and this year I am going to pick them small, and not let them grow into marrows like last years.

Most of the fruit is doing better than last year. I am picking about a bowl of raspberries each day, which are heading to the freezer at the moment. I think they are doing better because we removed a lot of the brambles that were mixed in with them. Also there are a huge amount of cherries. We can reach some, but there are also masses higher up out of reach. My son and I have started some cherry wine. The apples, pears and gooseberries all look like they are going to be better than last year, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that the deer does not return and have an appetite for fruit.

Summer Mushroom Dressing Gown

Whenever The Great British Sewing Bee comes around I marvel at the contestants talents and nerve, and remember that I can sew, but just haven't done it for a while. All the finalists were great this year, although my favourite didn't win, I think because she just missed the brief on the final garment.

I bought the material for this dressing gown several years ago, and have finally got around to making it. I guess it is a bit unusual for a dressing gown, but I really liked it. There is a little bit left over, and I am trying to work out a good purpose for it.

I have used the same pattern that I used to make a winter dressing gown for Mr Ginx a few years ago, and now my daughter is saying she might like one, so I really will have got my  value out of this pattern